In a speech critical of party’s performance during its stint in the government, Peoples Democratic Party patron, MuzaffarHussainBaig, on Tuesday asked the leadership and his colleagues to acknowledge that the party failed to deliver on the mandate it had won in the last Assembly election.
Baig was speaking at party’s Political Affairs Committee (PAC) here which was chaired by the PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti. His speech came in the backdrop of the party’s worst performance in the just concluded LokSabha elections.
The PDP lost all the three Parliament seats it had won in last LokSabha polls and managed to take lead in just four of 46 Assembly segments in Kashmir.
“We must acknowledge that we failed to match our own claims and live up to expectations of people,” Baig told the meeting, adding the party must accept that it failed to deliver.
In 2015 state elections the PDP had emerged as single largest party winning 28 Assembly segments. It went on to form the government, in coalition with BJP. But ever since the government assumed the office the PDP was confronted with one after another problem, from the tag of entering “unholy alliance” to shocking loss of power in June 2018 when BJP pulled the rug beneath the feet of Mehbooba and finally the rebellion that hit the party earlier this year after losing power.
“The people were angry with us and they felt betrayed. We couldn’t deliver on the promises that we had made with the people and hence had to face the people’s anger (in the election),” a party member quoted Baig as telling the meeting.
For the first time Baig raised questions about party approach to the elections. “The consultation process within the party was not on track and we couldn’t organise ourselves for entering the polls,” Baig, the former MP from Baramulla constituency, said.
“He (Baig) spoke plain and blunt,” a senior party leader said.
Another leader said Baig also came down heavily on “some” party leaders who had questioned performance of their colleagues from north during the Parliament elections in Kashmir, in a meeting on 19 May.
A “furious” Baig, without naming anybody, openly told the meeting that “such” party members shouldn’t be made part of any kind of deliberations in future, the party member said. Mehbooba, he said listened silently to Baig.
The 19 May meeting which was the first, held by the PDP after LS polls, had discussed the party’s poll debacle across Kashmir. A senior party leader said besides PDP chiefMehbooba Mufti and many other party leaders had raised fingers over performance of members from the north in the last meeting.
“Though Baig sahib attended the previous meeting he didn’t speak a word that time. Today, he was altogether different and raked up the issue at the beginning of his speech,” said the party leader.
He said Baig told the meeting that each member should own the responsibility of the party’s worst performance on the electoral front.
“MehboobaJi shouldn’t have contested the election at the outset. Now, that the results are in front of us. We should own them,” the member quoted Baig telling the meeting.
In an official statement the party said it shall be open for joint response to the new political challenges state was facing, while expressing concern over attempts being made to fragment mandate in J&K.
“The party held threadbare discussion about the current political situation within the state besides measures needed to be taken to strengthen the party at grass root level,” party’s chief spokesman Rafi Ahmad Mir said.
The participants observed that the “onslaught” on special status of J&K was multi dimensional and every attempt was being made to politically dis-empower citizens of the state. “It was also felt that while in some parts of state the voters are being unified for common cause there were parallel efforts being made in other parts of Jammu and Kashmir to create vertical political split in order to chock and curb regional aspirations”, Mir said.
He said it was decided that a wider consensus needs to be built to defeat “nefarious designs” aimed at dividing the state. The party declared that it was open to coordination and reach out to safeguard J&K’s core interests and special position.
The meeting decided that the party will launch state wide programs to reach out to workers besides reorganization of important wings of the organization.
“There was a view among the members that several party leaders who are not now part of the organization have contributed for the growth of party and efforts could be made to reach out to them for larger interests of the state,” the statement said.
The PDP leaders, who attended the meeting, included AR Veeri, Abdul Haq Khan, GhulamNabi Lone (Hanjura), Mehboob Beg, Rafi Ahmad Mir, SartajMadni, Naeem Akhtar, Muhammad Dilawar Mir, PeerzadaMansoorHussain, Mohammad Ashraf Mir, Nizam-ud-din Bhat, FirdousTak, Choudhary Hameed, Ved Mahajan, Tarlok Singh Bajwa and several others.